My first wines and some lessons

The time has arrived. Ten days ago I harvested my first grapes to make wine. I have harvested the Pearl of Csaba grapes. As I mentioned in previous posts, this type of grape is suitable for both wine or table consumption. I made two batches: one for white wine and one to grape juice.

The Pearl of Csaba is a Muscat type of grape. It is very fragrant and sweet. It is delicious to eat and the juice is full of flavor. Considering the number of grapevines I have, these two avenues are worth pursuing. If I made it all wine, I would end up with way too much. Pearl of Csaba has low acidity, which I understand is a disadvantage for wine making. In a previous post, I mentioned I had three varieties of grapes, one of which I thought was Baco Noir, but it appeared I had been misinformed. It is not Baco but Bacchus, a German hybrid Sylvaner x Riesling crossed with Müller-Thurgau. It is also quite fragrant and has more acidity. I mixed the Bacchus with the Pearl of Csaba to increase the acidity of my brew. My problem here has a mildew attack just two weeks before harvest. It screwed things up for me a bit because I had to destroy an entire row of Bacchus. From what I have discovered since then, Bacchus is very sensitive to mildew, and we had frequent showers in July which made spraying against mildew a bit tricky. Something to keep in mind for the future. That’s the main lesson so far. Too bad, because the grapevines looked really good. My mistake was to not thin out enough of the grape bunches. They ended up being crowded on the plants and offered some harbour to the mildew. I will manage things differently next year.

Back to the wine. I did the following:

  • I macerated the grapes for a few hours after crushing and before pressing
  • I added the recommended amount of sulfite to the must and let it settle for a day.
  • Then I transferred the must into large jugs and added some yeast for primary fermentation
  • I also added some sugar, as the brix (sugar content in the must) level in the must was on the low side
  • The primary fermentation – or alcoholic fermentation – went really well and was done in nine days.

This morning the brix had reached zero, which means that the alcoholic fermentation is done. As I do not want any malolactic fermentation, I racked the wine first thing this morning into a clean jug and added a bit of sulfite to kill undesirable bacteria. The wine will now settle for some time to evolve.

In a previous post, I had mentioned my findings about the wine the previous owner had made from the Pearl of Csaba. When I tasted my brew, I expected it might be just like his. Not at all. I do not why, but I do not think I care. At this stage, my wine has actually some acidity and gives a very pleasant tingling on the tongue. It reminds me of a Pinot Gris from Alsace that my wife and I quite like. Right now, it sounds quite promising and exciting. Let’s hope the rest of the maturation will be in line with the good start. The future will tell.

In a few weeks from now, it will be harvest time for the Pinot Noir. I am really looking forward to that!

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